A money laundering case involving a former congressman represents a test for the ability of El Salvador's authorities to unravel the complex links between political elites and organized crime networks.

Former congressman Wilver Rivera Monge is on trial on money laundering charges alongside convicted drug trafficker Jorge Ernesto Ulloa Sibrián, alias "Repollo," and 26 other defendants suspected of hiding illicit profits connected to Ulloa Sibrián's cocaine trafficking operations, reported El Diario de Hoy

The money laundering charges were formally brought against Rivera Monge in September 2014. Prosecutors say that Rivera Monge and members of his immediate family laundered roughly $8 million US in drug profits. The allegations suggest Rivera Monge used $1 million US of these illicit profits to fund his 2012 campaign for Congress, reported La Prensa Grafica

Ulloa Sibrián was arrested in 2013 and ultimately sentenced to 77 years in prison in 2014 for his role in heading up a cocaine transport operation that spanned much of Central America, working in collaboration with the Texis Cartel and other drug trafficking cells in the region. Authorities say that Ulloa Sibrián's network was responsible for moving at least 16 tons of cocaine through Central America en route to the US. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Texis Cartel

Immediately after Ulloa Sibrián's arrest in 2013, El Salvador's security minister denied claims that any members of Congress had been implicated in the organized crime boss' trafficking network; a claim he later had to retract as evidence of Rivera Monge's involvement emerged. At the time of Ulloa Sibrián's arrest, Rivera Monge was already being held by authorities on suspicion of affiliation with the Texis Cartel.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rivera Monge's trial may set an important precedent for El Salvador's justice system and its ability to unravel webs of connection between powerful political elites and organized crime networks.

Ulloa Sibrián's conviction in 2014 was a rare victory against a powerful and politically well-connected drug trafficker for Salvadoran authorities. Given the size and duration of Ulloa Sibrián's operation, which dates back to 2000, there is reason to believe that he long operated with some degree of official protection

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Judges and prosecutors hesitant to bring charges against politically well-connected traffickers present systemic concerns for El Salvador's justice system.

Alleged high-level members of the Texis Cartel have proven particularly slippery in evading conviction in El Salvador's court system on charges ranging from car theft to money laundering

 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...